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Water Slide Victims Settle for More Than $300,000

Times Staff Writer

The final lawsuits stemming from the rupture of a huge water slide in 1981 and other mishaps at the Big O Skate Park in Orange have been settled in recent weeks, with eight injured people settling for a total of more than $300,000.

Water slide riders could reach 20 m.p.h. as they slid down the twisting, six-foot-wide plastic tubes, starting from 68 feet above ground. The attraction opened in early July of 1981.

On Aug. 9 of that year, the plastic tubing ruptured, causing injuries to five people.

Largest Settlement

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The largest share of the settlement went to Bill Pierce, now 22, of Anaheim, who had slid into the hole created by the rupture and was impaled on a jagged edge of plastic. His friend, Joe Deterding, now 23, of Anaheim, was a few seconds behind and suffered cuts and a broken nose as he hit the hole, helping to free Pierce. They were able to walk down after the water was turned off.

Pierce, who was hospitalized and had to undergo surgery, received $125,000 in the settlement. Deterding received $20,000.

Also injured were Steven Krueger, now 20, of Garden Grove, and Amy Richardson, now 13, and her brother, Tory, now 18, of Washington state. Krueger, who suffered nerve damage to his left foot and cuts and bruises, received $60,000. The Richardsons escaped with minor cuts and bruises. Amy received $2,000 and her brother $2,101.

According to court documents and lawyers in the cases, three other people who were injured in accidents at the park on other dates also have settled lawsuits with Big O’s owners and insurers. They are Michael Howard, 28, of Garden Grove, who received $8,000 for neck and back injuries; Jared Wood, 17, of Westminster, $20,000 for loss of teeth, and Carol Webb, 32, of Los Angeles, $10,000 for cuts, bruises and a scar.

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Defendants Listed

Among the defendants in the suits were James L. Herrell and his Waterslide No. 2 limited partnership; Santa Ana lawyer John McGuire, who owned an interest in the park; General Electric Co., which made the special plastic called Lexan for the tubing, and Southern California Erectors Inc., which put up the slide. GE’s payment of $12,000 and the construction company’s payment of $50,000, were above and beyond the settlement amounts listed in court papers, but it could not be determined Friday how this additional $62,000 was distributed among the plaintiffs.

McGuire noted in a telephone interview Friday that the slide was torn down “some months ago.” Condominiums and an office building now occupy the site near Chapman Avenue and the Costa Mesa Freeway.


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